Having previously lived with a Peugeot 2008 for six months, the recent mid-life update of the quirky French SUV finally brings the vehicle up to the point where it’s a great choice all on its own, without having to rely on its European point of difference against a horde of Japanese competitors.
Gone is that lacklustre naturally-aspirated 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine and the ancient four-speed automatic and in its place comes a new 1.2-litre turbocharged three-cylinder unit coupled to a six-speed automatic that completely changes the character of the vehicle.
Power has actually dropped with the new engine from 88kW to 81kW, however, torque is up an impressive 45Nm to 205Nm, which makes all the difference for a city car, especially now that it is matched to a six-speed transmission capable of transferring that torque more efficiently to the front wheels.
Speaking of which, you really don’t need an all-wheel drive in this category unless you intend on taking your little SUV on occasional beach trips (though Peugeot’s GripControl system would argue otherwise). The front-wheel drive system works perfectly well in this application for city use and the French have applied decades of knowledge in this area for what is, a great experience.
On the road, the updated Peugeot 2008 feels willing and no longer has that sluggish tendency going up hills. It gets up to speed with more enthusiasm and it’s a very competent package overall without presenting any noticeable torque steer (mainly as it probably doesn’t have enough torque to do so).
The ride comfort of the 2008 has remained the same as before, and that is excellent. It absorbs bumps and harsh surfaces with little complaint and yet it somehow maintains its French DNA of dynamic competency without compromise.
We took the 2008 for a very long drive over some very poorly surfaced roads as well as twisty stuff and in both situations, it delighted us with its level of engineering and finesse. It’s the type of SUV you would buy if you occasionally don’t mind going around a corner fast.
In the city, where this car will spend the majority of its life, the 2008 is a pleasant place to be, not only for its ride comfort but also its quiet cabin and general ambience one probably wouldn’t expect from a car in this class.
To be fair, there was really nothing wrong with the old Peugeot 2008, except for the drivetrain (and our car had a fair few bits fall of it during our six-month long test). It’s a nicely presented car both inside and out and in this segment of compact SUVs, that’s not a combination easily found.
The French SUV’s interior is – as far as this reviewer is concerned – the best in class. The material used and the presentation makes the car feel far more expensive than it actually is. We are talking everything from the dashboard to the screen to the leather seats. There is hardly a cheap-feeling surface to be found and the updated model gets this carbon-fibre looking weave as the main pattern through the dash, adding an extra sense of sophistication lacking in its competitors.
There are some bits inside the cabin that can feel a tad flimsy, and as was our previous experience with an original 2008 over an extended period of time, some things do come loose or fall out entirely, but we can only hope that a few extra years of production has seen better Australian-summer heat resistant glue in use.
The boot is relatively spacious at 410 litres and the back seats can easily accommodate two adults or two child seats with the front passengers not having to move their seats too far forward.
It’s not cheap though, with the Peugeot 2008 range starting at $26,490 (plus on-roads) for the base spec, then stepping up to the mid-spec Allure model tested here at $30,990 and tops out with the GT-line for $32,990.
The good news is the base starting price already includes an automatic transmission as the manual has been dropped for lack of uptake. The creature comforts to the mid-spec for an extra $4500 are hard to justify, however, you do get the benefit of autonomous emergency braking (AEB), self-parking, front parking sensors, bigger wheels, sat-nav, auto headlights and wipers, and interior improvements.
Apart from AEB, the rest of the features are really more about comfort than anything else, and with the inclusion of Apple CarPlay, built-in sat-nav is pointless anyway as your iPhone can power the 7.0-inch infotainment screen.
Our test car was optioned with the panoramic sunroof and we would highly recommend you avoid this at all costs as the shade that closes the roof is not solid, and as such, it lets through a ton of sunlight, making those hot summer days almost unbearable. It’s a shame the French haven’t thought too hard about that aspect for the Australian market.
And then there’s the steering wheel, which regardless of what the Peugeot salesmen will try and tell you, blocks the view of the speedo. Sure, the French say you’re supposed to position it further down so you can see the dash properly, but that’s not how we recommend anyone drive. It’s a silly ergonomic fault present in both the 208 and 2008 and we hope it doesn’t make it past this generation. You’ll get used to it, but you shouldn’t have to.
There’s hardly a usable cupholder in sight and the ones that are present, won’t hold anything bigger than a miniature piccolo latte, which is a bit of a shame as we suspect the need for usable storage is universal and not specific to our market.
Even so, the new Peugeot 2008 is a great little package that stands out in a crowd of Japanese contenders. This is the type of car you can actually buy on its own merits but it’s likely there are some sharp deals to be done on models such as this.
Peugeot officially offers a three-year warranty but seems to have extended that to five on multiple occasions so we would recommend a bit of haggling for a longer period.
This is a vehicle you buy because everyone of your neighbours' seems to either have a Mazda CX-3 or Mitsubishi ASX. The Peugeot 2008 makes a European statement for its owner and finally has the skin-deep attributes to back it up.